Your business is growing and you’re thinking about taking on someone (or more than one someone) to help. So why is it, that while you and your company are a success, you’re filled with dread at the thought of taking the next steps to hire an employee? Do you have a fear or perception that the saying “it’s hard to find good people” might actually be true? Or perhaps you hired someone that you were convinced would be terrific only to painfully realize months later that it “wasn’t going to work out”.
The Ugly Truth About Hiring
Finding the “Right Person” can seem to be a daunting, time consuming and risky adventure for an entrepreneur, and guess what? It is! That’s why it’s important to understand the key elements to success and formulate a plan of action BEFORE starting the candidate search. Failing to plan in advance will cost you time during the search process and training period and of course, money. The average cost of a bad hire can be as much as 100% of the individuals first year salary and that amount increases when you factor in the negative impact on productivity, employee morale and customer satisfaction.
It’s Not Them, It’s You
Okay, let’s be honest. For many business owners like you, the only experience you’ve had with hiring was the last time you landed a job. Even if you’ve tried hiring you likely used a haphazard, trial and error approach with your decisions based on gut-feel, chemistry or some artificial deadline. Once you understand and commit to a hiring system you’ll recognize the pitfalls in the process and have the tools to avoid them.
Before you can think about WHERE to look for qualified staff, take some time to define WHAT the new hire has to do and HOW they will have do it. This simple idea goes beyond just a job description, enabling you to envision the skills, attitudes and behaviours that are required for the role. Successful hires come with a list of proven accomplishments not a dream of what they are “capable of”. Apply these techniques when considering your next candidate:
1. Write YOUR job description
Some or all of the tasks for the new recruit will be things that you used to do. Invest the time now to clearly define your role in the company and it will not only be easier to bring in new people, but will help you to let go of your routine so that you can maintain focus on priorities.
2. Raw recruit versus experience
It’s vital to be certain about what you are looking for. A raw recruit with less experience may require more monitoring and training time however, they tend to be more open to change. An experienced employee can hit the ground running, approaching tasks based on their previous successes and failures. This can often be an asset but there’s a risk of resistance to new methods. The right answer is dependent on balancing the short and long-term needs of your business.
3. Fill in the gaps
Carefully review the strengths and skill gaps in your company and fill in with experience and work styles that are missing.
4. Job shadow
Don’t be satisfied with a resume full of glowing references. Consider having your top two candidates job shadow for a day. Observing and interacting with your potential new hire will provide insights that would be impossible to obtain during a typical interview.
5. ABC, Always Be Considering
Don’t wait for “the right time” to hire or for a vacancy to occur. Instead maintain contact with a pool of potential candidates via social media, LinkedIn, regular email communication or networking events. Never turn away someone who’s interested in working for your company – they may turn out to be your next star!
6. Use a Rating Guide
The most effective thing that you can do to find great staff is to remove your own bias in the hiring process. Rater bias is that quirk of human nature that allows our judgements to be affected by our perceptual goggles. By eliminating highly subjective, vague scales and instead using a rating guide, the impact of an inflated positive perception or an unwitting negative impression is eliminated.
A rating guide is a grid that helps you to articulate the deal breakers, the essential criteria and the desired criteria, before the interview starts. Give each item a maximum point value and decide in advance what the overall pass mark will be. During the interview or immediately following, give a score for each hiring criteria based on the candidate’s responses, add the amounts and remove any that fail to meet the threshold.
Where to Look?
Sometimes you have to cast a wide net to know where the best fish are and luckily for employers there’s a wealth of options available. The right mix for you will depend on your budget, time constraints and if you have someone to assist with pre-screening applicants. The largest professional networking website in the world is LinkedIn but if you prefer a grass roots approach join a few groups on MeetUp.com. You may belong to an organization that offers to connect new graduates with employers and don’t forget word of mouth. It may be and old school approach but it can lead to great results. Also, remember to keep your website, Facebook page and Twitter feed updated to attract new talent.
So what do you do after you’ve taken the plunge and a great candidate doesn’t appear? Be patient! Invest a small amount of time to review your process and tweak where necessary to attract the right person. It’s far easier to manage the hope that you will find someone than it is to wish you had never hired the wrong one!
About the author
Marilyn Benninger, CPA, CGA is a professionally designated accountant with a 20-year passion for accounting software, the people who develop solutions and the customers who use their products. Her experience ranges from public speaking to strategic planning and includes marketing, sales and channel support. Marilyn has held senior leadership roles for both commercial and not-for-profit organizations and is the volunteer Communications Director for the Children’s Aid Foundation of Halton. In her role as Professional Problem Solver she assists organizations to become successful by focusing on customer and revenue growth strategies.
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